Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin officially opened a new £61 million road scheme near Gateshead today (7 July 2016).
The new scheme will help tackle congestion and increase road capacity in the area, benefiting the 116,000 drivers that use the A1 every day.
It is part of the government’s £15 billion roads investment strategy, which is transforming the road network and improving connections between cities.
The Highways England scheme covers a 4 mile stretch of the A1 from Coal House (junction 67) to Metro Centre (junction 71) and drivers are now able to use an extra lane in each direction as well as two new local link roads. Over 300 jobs have been created by the project, with 97 per cent of the construction workers required coming from the North East.
Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said:
This major upgrade to the A1 is part of the most ambitious, far-reaching road investment strategy for decades.
It will not only benefit those who use the road every day but deliver jobs and opportunities, benefiting families across the North of England.
Schemes like this are a crucial part of our plan to create a Northern Powerhouse, connecting our cities and towns and ensuring economic growth is spread more evenly across the UK.
In total, 8 miles of extra lanes have been added to the A1, increasing the number of lanes in each direction from 2 to 3.
Two new parallel link roads have also been created along a third-of-a-mile stretch of the A1 between Lobley Hill and Gateshead Quays. 150,000 square metres of resurfacing has been carried out – the equivalent of 21 football pitches – and 12 miles of new kerbs have been laid, made from recycled plastic bottles.
A new footbridge has been installed over the A1 at Chiltern Gardens which is suitable for cyclists as well as pedestrians and the footpath at the eastern side of the bridge has also been upgraded. A new 600 metre cycle track has also been created crossing the footbridge and linking up with the local cycle network.
Highways England has also released a time lapse video of the installation
Highways England Project Manager Lynne Biddles said:
This project has taken us less than two years to complete and will provide vital transport improvements on this stretch of the A1, reducing congestion and increasing capacity.
The extra lanes will benefit the thousands of drivers who use the route every day, and the new link roads will mean local traffic will have a dedicated route between Lobley Hill and Gateshead Quays.
We would like to thank drivers and the local community for their patience while this work has been taking place, and are pleased they can now benefit from the completed upgrade.
Nick Jones, Interim Chief Executive at Newcastle International Airport, said:
We are delighted to see the completion of this important project.
The western bypass is a key route for passengers getting to Newcastle Airport from the south of the region, so this improvement will make a big difference.
Gavin Prior, General Manager at the Metrocentre said:
The demand for three lanes along the A1 has been evident for years, and we are delighted the works are now complete so our shoppers and retailers can start to reap the rewards.
We are confident that the improved access and egress will not only benefit our retailers and shoppers but also the wider North East in terms of vitality and viability as this is a main local and arterial route for the region.
Our management team and retailers have worked closely with Highways England to minimise disruption and provide information over the course of the works. We’d like to thank our shoppers and the local community for their patience during this time.
Contractors for Highways England will still be on the site over the next few weeks while they complete minor work such as landscaping.
More details about the scheme are available on the website.
Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.